Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Residency

Dan McInturff, Rabun Flea Market, Rabun Gap, Georgia

My two weeks at The Hambidge Center was the most intense period of creative energy I can remember having. It was the first artist residency I've ever had and I certainly hope it isn't the last.

I started on a new project called American Flea. I traveled to four different flea markets in rural North Carolina and Georgia shooting portraits of vendors and customers. I'm very excited about the results and plan to continue the project for the foreseeable future. I met unusual and interesting people and recording their faces and hearing their stories is a great experience.
Shannon Pyle, Uncle Bill's Flea Market, Whittier, North Carolina
 I read over six hundred pages. The new memoir from Tom Robbins, Tibetan Peach Pie, was a delight and I burned through that in three days. Then I dove into The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. I last read this masterpiece forty years ago or so. It's massive and brilliant and I hope to finish it soon.

The biggest surprise to me is that, at the urging of my wife and daughter, I started writing again. Fifteen years ago I started writing a novel. I got fifty or sixty pages into it before life got in the way and I put it down. While at Hambidge, I went at it again and wrote over forty new pages. I figured out several important plot points and I hope to be able to continue on it in a more timely fashion now.

It's kind of amazing what you can accomplish when you have no cell service or television and the only internet connection is a quarter of a mile away. And it's great fun to be reminded that I still have something to say.

Oh, one more thing. Today is my birthday. I've realized that being in my sixties doesn't suck.
"Uncle" Bill Seay, Uncle Bill's Flea Market, Whittier, North Carolina


  1. What drew you to this work? Why are you moved to take these images?

    1. Hmm, Ralph- It started when I stopped at a flea market in rural North Carolina on the way home from a camping trip. I was amazed at the range of types of people there and thought that they were interesting looking enough to merit a photographic look. When I got the residency close by, I thought that was a perfect opportunity to to explore it visually.

      What I found was a social group, not unlike many of the social groups I've photographed in the past. These are people who join together, not just with a need to make money, but with a common love of meeting new new people to hear their stories and to share their own.

      The environments are busy and not always conducive to working with lights and a big camera on a tripod, but that's exactly what I'm doing. I've been working with a new modifiers for my Elinchrom Quadras and I find the quality a refreshing change from the softboxes I usually use. And I'm shooting with a medium format digital, so the level of detail in faces as well as backgrounds is astonishing. My intent is to make very large prints when I end up exhibiting them

      I hope that helps.

  2. You don't look like you are in your sixties by any means! It is great that you are writing again, it is always nice to come back to an old comforting artistic friend and continue your creative relationship with it. The American Flea images are amazing!

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